The Campaign Spot

Senate Report: CIA Reported Benghazi ‘Terror Attack’ Within 24 Hours

Big, busy Morning Jolt to close out the week. First, the depressing news that one of the Senate’s best, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, is retiring; then another roundup of news that fans of Obamacare would prefer to ignore, and Michelle Obama’s desire to “travel more” in post–White House life. But here’s the big splash . . . 

Senate Offers Bipartisan Report That’s Damning to Obama, Hillary, and the New York Times

This morning in the category of, ‘News That Is Surprising Only to Readers of the New York Times’:

A Senate report on the Benghazi attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans bolsters Obama administration critics who suspected from the start that al-Qaeda was involved and that it was not a spontaneous protest that went out of control.

The report, released Wednesday by the committee’s Democratic majority, said individuals affiliated with groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were in on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound.

Whether the attack was ordered by a high-level al-Qaeda chief or planned on short notice by people on the ground remains unclear, the report said. But the report left no doubt that it was an organized terror attack — a fact denied for days after the deaths by President Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Here’s that blockbuster report from the self-proclaimed Paper of Record back on December 28:

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

It gets worse for the Obama administration:

The White House and Clinton have said that no one was sure it was a terror attack or that al-Qaeda was involved until well after the incident. But within 24 hours the CIA station chief in Libya reported that it was a terror attack, and the CIA advised the White House that it appeared likely that al-Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved.

The report alluded to “contradictory” intelligence accounts it said came out in the immediate aftermath of the attack that may have confused the picture of how the attack happened.

But Gen. Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM at the time of attack, said Defense officials did not believe the attack was from an out-of-control demonstration and had no evidence of it, according to declassified testimony released this week by House investigators.

Ham said a U.S. military surveillance drone was sending back to Washington real-time video of the attack within minutes of its start.

“When we saw a rocket-propelled grenade attack, what appeared to be pretty well-aimed small-arms fire — again, this is all coming second- and third-hand through unclassified, you know, commercial, cellphones for the most part, initially,” he told House Armed Services.

“To me, it started to become clear pretty quickly that this was certainly a terrorist attack and not just not something sporadic.”

The administration keeps coming back to the “it was unclear, the evidence was contradictory, the information was confusing” excuses. Except they never seem to be able to point to much evidence that led them to believe it was a protest. It’s not like there were people marching in the streets with banners and posters beforehand.

There were two explanations, one accurate, one inaccurate. The accurate explanation had all kinds of bad repercussions for the White House and State Department — a wild overestimation of the stability of post-Qaddafi Libya, a blind dismissal of security concerns on the ground, an embarrassing inability to mount a rescue in a region adjacent to a host of NATO bases, and a humiliating refutation of Obama’s reelection-year boast that “al-Qaeda is on the run.”

The inaccurate one put the blame on some YouTube filmmaker.

I guess it wasn’t much of a contest.

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